YORKSHIRE cheese-makers were sent into a state of shock this week by the news that the Food Standards Agency is threatening to force the makers of "the king of English cheeses" - Blue Stilton - to change its centuries-old recipe because it is too salty.
It is accepted that Blue Stilton - the only English cheese accepted as an equal by the French - does have a higher salt content than most. But the fact that the FSA is actually investigating age-old recipes, when its role is supposed to be tackling excessive salt and fat in mass-produced junk food, has been received with deep offence.
The Yorkshire Dales produce one of England's best-known cheeses, Wensleydale, and it is an important source of jobs and income in the Hawes area. And in recent years, many small farmers and dairies have taken to making hand-crafted local cheeses which have won wide praise from restaurateurs and food critics.
While, as yet, there is no known threat from the FSA to these producers, the mere fact that its officials have taken the time to launch an investigation into Stilton - a luxury product eaten in small amounts by people with sophisticated palates - has been received with outrage.
Said one Craven cheese merchant: "Once again, bureaucracy is running amuck, racing miles ahead of the job is it supposed to do. At a time when millions of our children are threatened with obesity because they shovel down thousands of tons of salt in junk foods, our pen-pushers have singled out one of this nation's great delicacies eaten mostly be discerned adults."